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Dark Fixation of CO2 by Crassulacean Plants: Evidence for a Single Carboxylation Step

  • B. G. Sutton
  • C. B. Osmond
Publication Date
Sep 01, 1972
  • Biology


Malic acid isolated from Bryophyllum pinnatum (Lamk.) Oken (B. calycinum Salisb.), Bryophyllum tubiflorum Harv., Kalanchoë diagremontiana Hamet et Perrier and Sedum guatamalense Hemsl. after dark 14CO2 fixation was degraded by an in vitro NADP-malic enzyme technique. In the short term (5 to 30 seconds) the malic acid was almost exclusively labeled in the C-4 carboxyl carbon (greater than 90%). The percentage of 14C in the C-4 carboxyl of malic acid declined slowly with time, reaching 70% in B. tubiflorum and 54% in B. pinnatum after 14 hours of exposure to 14CO2. It was found that malic acid-adapted Lactobacillus arabinosus may seriously underestimate the C-4 carboxyl component of label in malic acid-14C. The amount of substrate which the bacteria can completely metabolize was easily exceeded; there was a significant level of randomization of label even when β-decarboxylation proceeded to completion, and in extended incubation periods, more than 25% of label was removed from malic acid-U-14C. The significance of these findings in relation to pathways of carbohydrate metabolism and malic acid synthesis in Crassulacean acid metabolism is discussed.

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